How to Learn a New Language on a Tight Budget
It goes without saying that learning a new language can open several doors personally, professionally, and socially. It can also be incredibly rewarding to learn more about other cultures, customs, and places by learning a new language. Unfortunately, it can also be a costly venture.
The costs of learning a new language usually come down to two factors: time and money. Some people have both or neither of these things, but the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. If you’re someone who has a moderate amount of time to dedicate to learning another language but don’t have much wiggle room in the budget arena, this article is for you. Here are 6 tips for learning a new language while keeping a tight budget in mind.
1. Using Online Resources
The online world can be a vast metropolis of language learning. Depending on what you want to improve the most (i.e., listening, speaking, writing, or reading), there’s an activity for just about anything. Jump on YouTube and do a quick search for the language you want to learn. Head over to Google and look up a prominent newspaper or magazine’s website to read articles in the language you’re learning (and potentially get the added bonus of learning more about a country’s culture and current events). Download free language-learning apps on your phone to learn while on-the-go. If you have an idea in mind, you can probably find it on the Internet.
2. Getting a Pen Pal
Many people may not realize that this is a thing, but it’s totally a thing. There are online platforms that you can use to connect to people just like you who are also interested in learning another language. So, you can become both tutor and tutee in one 30-minute Skype session per week, for example. There are also ways that you can set up pen pal correspondence with students from around the world, if you prefer. Most of these sites are free to use, and you may even make a friend in the process.
3. Listening to Free Podcasts
If you have access to podcast apps through a smartphone, this is definitely a great way to boost your listening comprehension. With so many podcasts available nowadays, you can find just about any language level and listening topic represented (anything from the news to fictitious conversations spoken by the host). Here again, many of these podcasts are free and easy to use whenever.
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4. Renting Library Books
Yes, libraries are still around and, yes, they’re still free. Although some libraries don’t have a terribly large language selection, many are becoming more connected on a state and local level, which means that more is actually available through your local library than may meet the eye.
Say you would like a picture dictionary to help learn food vocabulary – why buy a picture dictionary that you won’t need after learning the words? Or, say you want to read a children’s novel in your new language to solidify sentence structure and learn some new vocabulary words, but without the overwhelm of using a language reader. These are great scenarios wherein renting from the library is a perfect short-term solution. And if it turns out that the picture dictionary hasn’t left your side, then you know that it’s a resource worth purchasing yourself.
5. Watching Movies With Subtitles
Do you already have a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime account (or similar) that gives you access to just about all the movies and TV shows you can handle? Instead of watching them mindlessly in your native tongue, see if they’re available to watch in the new language you seek to learn. While you’re at it, activate the subtitles feature for double exposure. Be careful, though – only do this if both the audio and subtitles are in the foreign language. If you have English subtitles dubbed over another language’s audio, your mind may drown out the rest in favor for the language you already know. Get the most out of the experience by opting for full audio and subtitle exposure in your new language.
6. Learning Through, ahem, Language Trainers
Not to toot our own horn or anything, but we are a premier language learning service that specializes in small group and one-on-one learning sessions tailored to a variety of language contexts (whether you’re moving abroad or just traveling, for example). We offer affordable, local options that are perfect for learning a language on a tight budget or timeline. If you’re serious about learning a language and want to work with native-level speakers, be sure to consider us in your learning plan. Check out our learning packages, and also be sure to view special offers and current promotions while you’re at it.
Learning a language is never without some cost, but the process can be much less painful on your wallet by employing some of these tips. Next time you decide to jump in and begin your new language learning journey, remember that it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Have others tips for learning a new language on-the-cheap? Share them with us here!